Let’s Take A Moment Day 300

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Day 300. I never imagined when I started down this road it would last this long. But then again I never lived through a global pandemic before so I did not exactly have a point of reference. Or a clue as to how much life would really change as a result of it. But this has been anything but a chore so I will keep going.

When famed Beatles record producer Sir George Martin died in 2016, Paul McCartney is reported to have said, “If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George.” And if anyone had the right to bestow that title on someone, it was one of The Fab Four. Martin was born on January 3, 1926 in London, England. He was the man who signed The Beatles to EMI Records in 1962 and helped mold the band’s sound in the recording studio with his skills as an arranger & producer. He wore a few other hats throughout his career including musician, composer, engineer & conductor.

Martin’s influence was clear from the group’s first US album, Introducing… The Beatles, released 57 years ago today, January 10, 1964. A month later, they arrived in America for their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. If there ever was a moment that changed the course of music history in America, it was that Beatles’ Sunday night performance on February 9, 1964. Less than a year later-January 9, 1965-The Fab Four’s popularity showed no signs of slowing down when their album Beatles 65 soared from #98 to #1 in only one week.

The rest of The Beatles story is very well documented from their 1965 concert at Shea Stadium, their final concert a year later in Candlestick Park in San Francisco, their two movie features (“A Hard Day’s Night” & “Help”) to their groundbreaking albums including Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, The White Album & Abbey Road. Every album by the band with the exception of “Let It Be” was produced by Martin. The last one started with him in charge but then the project was put on hold for the band to record “Abbey Road“. They then returned to the Let It Be tapes to finish it but between all the fights amongst the band members including John Lennon’s departure at the beginning of 1970, the tapes were shelved. Eventually they were placed in the hands of Phil Spector who put his Wall Of Sound spin on them to give us the finished product in May 1970.

Martin continued his esteemed career in music after his seminal work with The Beatles. His more notable projects include his work on two James Bond soundtracks (“Goldfinger” in 1964 & “Live And Let Die” in 1973), producing several albums for the band America, collaborating with Pete Townsend on the musical arrangements for The Who’s 1993 Broadway production of “Tommy” & producing Elton John’s 1997 Princess Diana tribute recording of “Candle In The Wind”. Martin worked with his son, Giles Martin-also a composer, producer & multi-instrumentalist-on the arrangement of the music for the 2006 Cirque du Soleil show, “Love” based on The Fab Four’s music. The Beatles would not have been The Beatles without George Martin.

And anytime you feel the pain
Hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world
Upon your shoulders
“.

Martin and The Beatles

The Beatles in the Studio with producer George Martin circa 1967 (John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Martin (center) George Harrison and Paul McCartney. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “Hey Jude” (Live performance from “Frost On Sunday” broadcast in the UK on September 8, 1968. Rebroadcast in the US on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” on October 6, 1968. Written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 199

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Jane Austen Music Quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Fifty one years ago today-October 1, 1969-The Beatles released “Abbey Road” here in the US. Five days later, today’s song came out as the first single backed with “Come Together”. One look at the cover of the album with three of The Fab Four sporting long hair and beards and you could hardly believe that only five years had passed since they first arrived in America in their matching suits and mop-top haircuts. The 1960’s swept over them and the world at an unbelievably rapid pace.

The music the group created continued to evolve as well. But John Lennon & Paul McCartney, still being credited as a writing team, were moving in opposite directions. The diversity they showed on “The White Album”-Lennon writing about a “Revolution” along with more introspective pieces like “Julia” & “Dear Prudence” while McCartney told stories about “Rocky Raccoon”, “Mother Nature’s Son” and “Wild Honey Pie”-continued on “Abbey Road” as well. Lennon wrote “Come Together” & “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” while McCartney sang about “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and a few other characters until closing out the album with his famous medley.

The other thing that was clear on this album was George Harrison’s momentum from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” helped him deliver not one but two of the best songs the group ever recorded, “Here Comes The Sun” and today’s track. Ringo Starr started the song off with an incredible drum roll and continued his exquisite playing throughout it which only added to the beauty of this tune. Harrison had already begun stockpiling songs for his first solo record but the two he contributed to “Abbey Road” removed any doubt as to his premier songwriting ability. The stage was being set for his debut album, the “Concert For Bangladesh” and all the other gems he brought us in the 1970’s and beyond. But it was today’s song that Frank Sinatra called “the greatest love song of the past 50 years” and neither Lennon nor McCartney could ever take that prestigious honor away from Harrison. This is without a doubt my favorite Beatles song of all time.

Something in the way she knows
And all I have to do is think of her
Something in the things she shows me
I don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how
“.

Abbey Road

The “Abbey Road” album cover. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “Something” (1969, written by George Harrison).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 137

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Thoreau music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Only two famous musicians are known to have played with both The Beatles as a group and then with all four members individually.  The first is my great love Eric Clapton, who played lead guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, although he went uncredited on The White Album.  He then went on to play with Lennon in The Dirty Mac (along with Keith Richards on bass and Mitch Mitchell, the drummer from The Jimi Hendrix Experience) and on several songs by Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band.  Clapton played with Paul on his 2001 song, “Freedom” & at The Concert For George.  Clapton co-wrote “Badge” for Cream with George, played on his 1970 album, “All Things Must Pass” and appeared at The Concert For Bangladesh in 1971 with him as well.  Ringo was also at The Concert For Bangladesh and Clapton wrote music & played guitar for Ringo’s 1976 album, “Ringo’s Rotogravure” and 1983’s “Old Wave” amongst others.  Clapton also played with Ringo in person at The Prince’s Trust Concert in 1987 as well as The Concert For George in 2002.

The other musician to boast the same accomplishment with The Beatles was Billy Preston.  He was nicknamed “The Fifth Beatle” after playing organ for them on “Abbey Road” (on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy”) & “Something”), then he played electric piano on the “Let It Be” album and in the movie during the rooftop concert scene for “Get Back” & “Don’t Let Me Down”.  After the band broke up Preston played on John’s song “God”, on George’s album “All Things Must Pass” and at The Concert For Bangladesh.  Preston also played on a few of Ringo’s solo albums (1973’s self titled record & 2005’s “Choose Love”), in his All-Starr Band & at The Concert For George (where he sang a rousing version of “My Sweet Lord”) and played with Paul at this show as well.  And for added interest, Preston played Sgt. Pepper in the 1978 film of the same name where he sang his own version of “Get Back”.

He was hailed as a self-taught child prodigy who played with Mahalia Jackson & Nat King Cole by the ages of 10 and 11, respectively.  By the age of 16 he met The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany when he was playing with Little Richard’s band.  Later that year he played for Sam Cooke and five years later, he joined Ray Charles’ band.  He has played on several albums for The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton while working on songs by artists like Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle & The Band.  Preston also worked as the musical director for David Brenner’s short lived late night show, Nightlife, from 1986-1987.  He co-wrote today’s song with songwriter Bruce Fisher and both men also penned the Joe Cocker hit, “You Are So Beautiful” (there are rumors that Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys had a hand in writing it as well but allegedly his brother Brian Wilson said that was not the case).  Preston died too young at the age of 59 in 2006 but left a legacy of great performances that showcase just how gifted he was.

Billy Preston in 2002 at The Concert For George (L) and as Sgy. Pepper (R) in the 1978 movie of the same name.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Billy Preston:  “Nothing From Nothing” (1974, written by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #1

The #1 song on the countdown was called “the greatest love song of the past 50 years” when it was released in 1969 by none other than Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.  It also has the distinct honor of being the most covered Beatles song second only to “Yesterday”.  The top song on my list is…drum roll please…”Something” by the Beatles.

Inspired by James Taylor’s 1968 song “Something In The Way She Moves” and written by George Harrison for his first wife, Pattie Boyd, the song was the masterpiece of his career as a Beatle.  It was released on the album “Abbey Road” and issued with “Come Together” as a double single which hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1969.

That was the Beatles 18th chart topper, putting them one song ahead of Elvis Presley’s previous record of 17.  A video of the Beatles and their wives set to the song was also released that year to promote it and the album amid rumors that a break up of the Fab Four was imminent.

Harrison’s lyrics expressed  both his love for his wife while acknowledging the uncertainty that is the future:

Something in the way she moves
Attracts me like no other lover
Something in the way she woos me

You’re asking me will my love grow
I don’t know, I don’t know
You stick around now it may show
I don’t know, I don’t know

Legends including Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Elton John & Willie Nelson have covered “Something” either on record or live in concert.  Sadly Harrison’s marriage to Boyd did not grow, as she eventually left him for his best friend, Eric Clapton.  But that’s another song (“Layla” to be exact).

After the Beatles broke up, Harrison went on to have a successful solo career and hosted one of the first benefit concerts ever-1971’s Concert for Bangladesh.

The Beatles were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988 by Mick Jagger and Harrison was inducted as a solo artist in 2004 by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, who were members of Harrison’s other band-the Traveling Wilburys .

As if the attacks of 9/11/01 were not devastating enough to the world that year, two months after those tragedies we lost George Harrison to cancer, which left only two of the four Beatles around to carry on the legacy of one of the greatest bands of all time.  Sigh 😦

There you have it, Vixens-my picks for the top 14 love songs.  Hope I included some of your favorites or helped you discover some new ones.

***BONUS:  One of my favorite songs is named “Valentine” and it is by E Street guitarist Nils Lofgren, with a little help from the Boss himself.

***BONUS TWO:  If you have never seen the Golden Girls episode entitled “Valentine’s Day“, take about 20 minutes out now to watch it.  I love all their episodes, but this one is in their top 10.

Enjoy!!!